You may have heard about Barokas PR’s “PR Minus the BS” motto. You’ve likely seen all of the coverage we secure for our clients. You may have even heard about our ham vs. turkey debacle (aka turkeygate), but what do you really know about the team that makes BPR…BPR?
We conducted a small survey to ask those hard-hitting questions about the folks behind the scenes. How much coffee do we drink a day? What booze do we like to drink? Who’s tatted and who has a pet? All (the important) questions are answered in the graphic below.
Today, Denver Startup Week wrapped up its fourth year with a record-breaking number of 10,000+ attendees, nearly three times the size of its first year in 2012. The free weeklong event, which included information sessions, panels, pitch-offs and happy hours, offered events focused on technology, entrepreneurship, media and a smorgasbord of other topics.
BPR-Denver jumped into the startup fun by hosting an event titled “How A Taboo Topic Can Transform Into A Successful Startup,” while also attending a handful of interesting events throughout the week. Here’s a brief rundown of those events and the takeaways from those who attended:
The Future of PR: Publicity in the Digital Age
We were “thrilled, pleased and excited” to kick off Denver Startup Week with a topic near and dear to our hearts – the evolving PR landscape. However, there were not any PR pros on the panel, which would have greatly benefited the audience members based on their questions. In fact, one panelist uttered “you don’t need to worry about crisis communications until something happens” – say what? There were some relevant themes discussed, such as content marketing, but that in itself deserves its own session. If a startup was interested in learning more about securing broadcast coverage for their company, the reporter from Denver’s 9NEWS shared several good insights.
Social Media: You’re Doing It Wrong
The three panelists stressed consistency in postings that shine light on the company’s personality. People don’t do business with businesses; they do business with people. In terms of original vs. curated content, some use the 80/20 approach with 80% of content focused on what your audience cares about, and 20% on pushing your brand’s messaging. Others used the 321 approach – 3 parts generated in-house, 2 parts relating back to us and 1 part curated content relating to our story. Researching hashtag popularity is a key step to reaching your intended audience, but never forget: if it doesn’t inspire you, don’t expect it to inspire anyone else.
Pledge 1%: Seth Levine, Rally Software + EFCO
Community involvement and the desire to give back truly separates Colorado from other tech communities around the country. Seth Levine / Foundry Group and Ryan Martens / Rally Software (now CA), along with representatives from Tendril and Trelora, provided insights into EFCO and its mission to help companies set aside equity and commit volunteer hours to nonprofits in their communities. Pledge 1% has already donated more than $3.5 million in funding for Colorado nonprofits. The panelists emphasized the importance of giving back to tech talent moving to Colorado and the importance of community building to Colorado company employees.
Back to the Future: Where is Media Headed?
This panel seemed pertinent to anyone involved in the media, but was solely focused on the cable industry and trends in consuming visual media. The panel included representatives from Sling TV, Comcast and Dish who discussed how millennials view media, what we can expect from major TV providers and how they’re combating cord-cutters. While millennials are known to be ditching cable to watch shows via mobile devices, they found an increase in salary leads to increasing TV sales. They also confirmed that 4K resolution will be the next phenomenon relating to how we consume visual media.
The Pitch Deck Workshop
Paul Vorreiter of Reflective Spark presented to a packed room of entrepreneurs on how to create the perfect pitch deck. While the session was geared toward investor presentations, it was broadly applicable to any type of deck. We found this workshop particularly valuable as we partner with our clients to create media and analyst presentations that need to be succinctly delivered in under 30 minutes. Key takeaway – bullet points kill people. The session ended with Paul delivering live feedback to an entrepreneur pitching his slide delivery service, and some hands on presentation work with the audience.
How to Write Killer Copy and Connect with Customers
Not everything you do is interesting – harsh, but very true. New company partnerships, news hires – they may be valuable in a press release, but readers/potential customers couldn’t care less. Content should alleviate customers’ pain points. Come up with your content hypothesis before you write anything. This post will teach X how to X and should result in X. Content needs to be timely and headlines should be priority – if the title isn’t interesting we assume the content is just as boring. Research what customers want to know and what they want to learn about.
Data For the Rest of Us: Using Government Data to Fuel Colorado’s Economy
Have you ever wanted to know which roads are going to be snow plowed in real time to avoid traffic? Or have you ever wondered how the new marijuana legislature is affecting taxes and state revenue? What if wanted to know if your neighborhood is at a higher risk of fire-related deaths? While Open Data might not sound like the most exciting topic, this panel discussion explored how an Open Data environment will provide endless opportunities to advance society. Open Data has become a vital tool for businesses and entrepreneurs alike, in order to solve society’s toughest problems. One of our clients is helping local governments connect with their citizens by providing an Open Data portal, and this session reinforced the benefits of adopting these initiatives.
How to Work Remotely, Effectively
Goosetail, a Boulder-based design and development company, hosted a panel on how to effectively work from home. While the session was geared towards those who manage remote employees/employees who never work in an office, it was completely applicable for BPR as we’ve recently implemented work from home Fridays. A couple key takeaways:
Be transparent and overly communicate when working remote
Video conference when you can
Respect people’s virtual status and engage in virtual discussion
Don’t worry too much on the process, as long as the deadlines get met
Breaking Through Barriers – How A Taboo Topic Can Transform into a Successful Startup
BRP invited Will Sacks, Co-Founder and CEO of Kindara, Stewart Fortier, Co-Founder and Director of MassRoots, and Sue Kuntz, Managing Partner and Founder of ThriveOn, to discuss how their companies, which focus on drugs, sex and rocking chairs (aka senior citizens), thrive in the Denver startup ecosystem. The three founders spoke about successfully building their brand, marketing to niche audiences, and even battling Apple for a spot in the App Store. This engaging panel allowed the audience to get a peek into the world of startups with touchy topics. As Will Sacks said, “stay true to your brand and success will follow.”
Denver Startup Week has been a great source of information and an even better way to network with entrepreneurs, startups and those involved in Denver’s amazing startup ecosystem. We’re looking forward to next year already!
As a Public Relations major in college, I knew I wanted to intern at a PR firm somewhere in Seattle…I just had no idea where, or what to expect once I got there. I started combing through the dozens of PR internship opportunities – from the largest to the smallest of firms – and found nothing that really interested me.
It wasn’t until I went onto Barokas PR’s website that something finally caught my attention. Immediately, BPR stood out, and I could tell it wasn’t your typical PR firm. I think the “PR minus the BS” slogan might have tipped me off a little. I decided that BPR was my top priority for a possible internship. After exchanging a few phone calls and emails, I had my interview.
Being one of my first professional interviews, I didn’t really know what to expect. I walked into the office and was lead into a conference room named “Tupac” where I was interviewed by Aerin Meyers and Michelle Isacson, as well as their dogs Augustus and Amos. I felt like the interview went well and I was able to make a good impression, although I was pretty sure I hadn’t won over Augustus yet. A couple of days later, I was offered an intern position and asked to start as soon as possible.
Within the first couple days of starting my internship, I was assigned to multiple client accounts and given high priority work. It was perfect. The first thing I noticed about BPR was how open and willing fellow employees were to help me with any questions I had. After settling in, I was able to dive into PR work right away and get a good feel on how a PR firm operates. From coverage tracking to media pitching, I had the opportunity to do handle as much work as I could.
After interning for a couple months, I can honestly say the intern process at BPR has been everything I was hoping it would be, although my relationship with Augustus is taking longer to develop than I thought it would; nonetheless, I’m not giving up. I’ve learned more working here than I ever did in a classroom, made lasting professional connections for the future, and gained insight in how to be successful in the world of PR.
Barokas is a great place to intern because they give you the opportunity and one-on-one training that a larger firm simply cannot offer. BPR pushes you to ensure that you get the most out of your internship. Communication barriers don’t exist here like there would be at other, larger firms. You are encouraged to speak your mind during meetings, whether you’re the CEO or a fresh intern like myself…everyone’s input is valued.
I could go on about how great BPR is, but to really experience it you have to be here. We are currently looking for interns for the fall, so take a chance while it’s available and apply intern at BPR today!
As many of you may know, both Washington and Colorado legalized the use of recreational marijuana in 2012. If you are reading this blog, you may also know that Barokas PR has an office in both Seattle and Denver. Coincidence? Well, yes. Fortuitous? We hope so.
Last week a group of us attended Seattle’s Cannabis Tech Meetup, a monthly event hosted by the crew behind New Tech Seattle whose aim is to unite Pacific Northwest companies doing cool things with cannabis-related technology. Entrepreneurs, investors, job seekers, and curious folk from all walks of life were in attendance to network and talk about the dynamic Seattle tech industry, and the merits between Indica and Sativa. What were we doing there? Besides the obvious—it’s fucking cool! We also have a new client in the industry:
Paper & Leaf, the first recreational retail cannabis shop on Bainbridge Island, may be new on the local cannabis landscape, but their unique welcoming atmosphere, shuttle service from the ferry, and an open art gallery-esque design helps make our job telling their story as smooth as a bong hit with ice cold water! Oh and did I mention Paper & Leaf’s co-owner is Brendan Hill – the drummer and founding member of Grammy winning Blues Traveler?
Here are two great tech / Cannabis companies we met that are doing cool things for the industry:
Leafly: The IMDB of the cannabis community, Leafly is a highly successful rating platform for marijuana strains, garnering over 6 million monthly visitors and 31 million page views on their website and mobile applications. They strive to provide accurate and holistic descriptions of each strain to find the right products for the seasoned and rookie consumer alike.
iUNU: iUNU is revolutionizing the horticulture industry through their advanced lighting systems that maximize growth while minimizing the amount of energy used to power the lights, water necessary for the plants to grow, and even the amount of nutrient waste produced. Their clients range from technology companies to large-scale greenhouse that grow all sorts of plants – including marijuana!
With our presence in Seattle and Denver, our deep knowledge in tech PR, and our interest in the product, BPR is uniquely positioned to be the AOR for POT!
If you don’t consider Seinfeld the best sitcom to ever grace the airwaves, you are sadly mistaken. For a show about nothing (as in there was no plot to the series overall), Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer touched on plenty of real-life issues throughout a whopping 180 episodes. From setting up your answering machine, following proper gym etiquette and asking for a spare square of toilet paper, Seinfeld provides commentary on the issues regular folks deal with in the real world, which is why the show has so much appeal. So what can business professionals take from Seinfeld?
Does Kramer know what he wants to do? Obviously not, but he is overly ambitious about every venture, can pitch just about any idea that pops in his mind and is great with people. He’s willing to take a risk “just to make it in this business,” even if that means making a fool of himself in front of Fred Savage. But at the end of the day, Kramer is only concerned with one thing – TCB: taking care of business – the most valuable quality in any field.
One hundred million dollars. That’s how much E! is paying Kris Jenner to keep their rights to the Kardashian series for the next four years. The closest we’ve come to seeing one hundred million of anything is when we go to the beach and count the grains of sand. Most of us can’t imagine that kind of money and we’ve also been left scratching our heads wondering, “Why are the Kardashians so (expletive) famous?”
The answer is that Kris Jenner has a special knack – dare we say talent – for using the media. Call her undeserving all you want, but she realized the power of the press early on used her media-maven prowess to cash checks at the bank… and then she hired someone to go to the bank for her because she’s Kris Jenner.
PR lessons learned from the times when Kris Jenner knew exactly what she was doing, she…
Understands when to put the right face on.
(Credit: E! Magazine)
Knows her strengths and weaknesses.
(Credit: E! Magazine)
Understands that the media never sleeps.
(Credit: E! News)
Is able to pick up information from different industries quickly.
(Credit: E! Magazine)
Makes sure she stays relevant, even to family members.
It’s hard to believe that only two years ago, BPR Denver was a team of one — our VP, Johanna Erickson — sitting solo in Boulder at a big desk with even bigger dreams. She and the rest of the Seattle team knew there was potential for Barokas in Colorado with the region’s booming tech scene and the company’s extensive tech PR experience. But how much potential?
Fast forward two years and 10 employees later, and here we are — hard at work in our funky, industrial office in LoDo with dozens of new clients including Techstars, LeadPages, Choremonster, Simple Energy, CarLister, SQFT and Kindara. In typical BPR fashion — without the BS — we’re continuing to help grow our clients’ businesses by telling the right stories to the right reporters.
One of the key reasons BPR Denver has flourished is our unique work environment. It’s no secret that PR is a 24/7 job, so in the process of working our butts off for our clients, we — including part-time staffer Stella (the golden retriever) and Nick (the box turtle) — have truly become a family. We support one another in and outside of the office, challenge and bounce ideas off each other, and make each other laugh every single day.
We’ve ended many work days with a team happy hour or dinner and have planned countless other activities outside the office. Just last weekend, we got together for brunch at local hotspot, Root Down. Some of us saw Wicked together and took trips to Coachella. To close out our bi-annual staff meeting, we pedaled around Denver on a bike bar, sipping drinks and listening to old school hip hop. In September, we worked together to plan and host a Denver Startup Week panel. It’s this type of collaborative, fun and creative work environment that has enabled us to kick ass for our clients.
I’m excited to see what BPR Denver will look like another year from now. It’s impossible to know what new companies we’ll help launch and exactly how much our team will grow, but I do know as we continue to expand, we will continue to stay truly BPR — that is a hard-working, no-BS, smart, passionate group of PR professionals. And I feel very lucky to be along for the ride.
I was talking to a reporter the other day about a new product my client was launching, and at the end of the conversation when we were about to schedule an interview I told him I’d send the press release under embargo as background for the call. He said, “Don’t bother – releases are [insert expletive], I want to see real information about what they’re announcing.”
Therein lines the yin and yang of press releases. Which master to serve?
Lest we forget, our job is to serve the media, who have told us they’re sick of seeing 100’s of “thrilled, pleased, and excited” spokespeople a day being quoted in releases and just as many “first “and “only” products being announced. By allowing these statements to creep their way into releases, we lose credibility for our clients and ourselves with the media.
But, I’m also a realist, and would I rather spend my time fighting with a client or pitching reporters (answer: pitching). As the mom of an 11-year old, I know how to pick and choose my battles – is it more important for my daughter to brush her teeth or have a clean room (answer: teeth, because braces aren’t covered by insurance).
At the end of the day, we serve two masters. I envy the CEO or CMO who walks into a room full of PR experts (the board) and gets told to make these kinds of changes. They don’t know the difference, and the decision is clear. I also envy reporters, who quickly scan pitches/releases as use them as a litmus test to decide which announcements to cover and which ones don’t pass the BS sniff test.
But, I empathize with the PR person. For us, there is no right or wrong answer. We must continue to pick and choose our battles, just like we do with our kids.
Okay, okay… put your ones away and get your mind out of the gutter. As much as we’d love for this to be about the fine art of pole dancing, we’ll be talking about something much sexier – how to make your client surveys take off like a rocket. 😉
Most PR pros have come to accept that clients don’t always have hard news to promote. It’s in times like these where more and more of us are turning to surveys to drive news. So, how do you build a survey that will rocket your client to the moon and back?
Assemble the Parts
When creating your survey, it’s important to have a vision of your final product in mind. Decide what industry trend you want to investigate and what insightful takeaways you’d like to see on that topic. From here, you will be ready to work backwards to craft your questions. Also, it’s best to keep your list of questions to 10 or less. Otherwise, survey takers are going to peace the F out before you can get the answers.
Plot Your Course
Now that you have your questions, it’s time to pick the best method to conduct your survey. Whether it is conducted online or in person, there is often one method that’s best depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’re conducting a survey at an industry event or conference, utilizing good ol’ pen and paper is easiest. This way, you can have multiple people filling out surveys at once and have the sales team qualify leads on the spot based on a quick review of their responses. In most other scenarios, an online survey tool works great. The nice thing about today’s survey technologies is that they do all the grunt work – aka calculating – for you. #winning
Everyone Wants to be an Astronaut
Lets not forget one of the most important things: no one likes to take surveys without a little something in it for them. Decide what is going to be the best motivator for your target audience based on demographics or the latest trend in tech. It needs to be something people want enough that they are willing to exchange five minutes of their time for it. It could be something simple like an Amazon gift card, something hip like an Apple Watch, or you can go the classic cool route like our client, Adaptiva, and offer up a Harley Davidson – then maybe you’ll get a turnout like this.
Bringing it Home
Now that you’ve got your data, what the heck are you supposed to do with it? First things first, it’s time to celebrate your surprises. Take a look at your data and pull out anything that shocks you. Flag numbers that are extremely high or low, or those that confirm or, even better, buck a preconceived industry insight. The nuggets of insights surveys produce can often create an opportunity to validate key messaging points.
Next, since you’re a baller and built your survey rocket with a plan, you should be able to turn your single data set into two or more smaller sets, and compare those side-by-side. By adding a few clarifying questions up front, you can use that data to breakout your respondents by age and compare Millennials vs. Baby Boomers. Or, you can divide your data by company size and compare Enterprises vs. SMBs. The more opportunities you give yourself to slice and dice the data, the more takeaways you’ll have to tell a story.
Working the poll can be hard work, but remember the key strategies above and you’ll be raking in coverage like a moth to a flame.
Shenanigans may or may not include eating ice cream, laying on freshly mowed lawn, soaking up the rays and Vitamin D, and/or sitting in a sangria-filled paddling pool
By Constance McBarron, special reporter to the BPR blog
July 2, 2015
SEATTLE and DENVER and “TEXAS” – It’s getting hot in heeerrrrre.
At least, that’s what the folks at Barokas Public Relations are saying. With record temps hitting the nation these past few weeks, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that summer has arrived. *
A quick survey of the Barokas PR staff revealed that 100 percent of the team is enjoying the longer days and, frankly, happier people in the city. Backyard BBQs and increased levels of Vitamin D top the literal highlights of summer, followed by working on a tan, hiking, wearing flippy-floppies, eating ice cream, wearing shorts, and enjoying baseball and/or golf.
One undisclosed Account Executive wrote in, “Brunch, Booze, Repeat.” Cheers, mate.
The survey also discovered that 90 percent of the staff plan to get the hell out of here take a vacation at some point this summer, with almost 50 percent planning to partake in some outdoorsy shit that may or may not include camping in the nearby mountains with the family dog. Other vacation locales include: Vegas, Vegassss, Maui Wowie, “Space”, Burning Man, Lake Chelan, “an island”, Chicago, Telluride, Disneyland, San Francisco, Crested Butte, Walla Walla, Croatia, and quite a few out of town weddings.
“I’m like a traveling machine this summer,” commented an Account Manager who plans on taking three trips between July and September. Go get it, girl, you’ve earned it.
It should be noted that the Barokas PR’s mascots, two English bulldogs named Mack and Emma, plan to stay in Issaquah to enjoy the cool comforts of home. Pampered pooches.
“I said I’m not going anywhere, stop rubbing it in,” agreed yet another Account Executive who wishes to remain anonymous.
*Editor’s Note: There is some doubt as to whether this weather will depart any time soon.